As an adult living out in the world, we know that life doesn’t hand out good job stickers or throw you a pizza party at the end of the month because you did your job. But, every once in a while the hard work pays off and life does reward you with something great…not because you participated, but because you earned it. Because you have worked hard and consistently, without the sticker or pizza party, and have dedicated yourself just for the potential of the opportunity. We talked with Rossie Snow, a black belt under Amal Easton, about her jiu jitsu journey and preparing for one of the biggest matches of her career at the Fight to Win Pro 4 on April 8, 2016 against Makenzie Dern.
Tell us a little about Rossie Snow outside of jiu jitsu…
I grew up on cattle ranches in Colorado. Growing up I played sports but I never really excelled at sports before I found jiu jitsu. That has been something that is really special about jiu jitsu for me. I started the sport as an adult and next month I have a match with the number one ranked female black belt in the world! There aren’t many sports where that is possible. I graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a bachelors and a masters in mathematics. Now I’m a high school math teacher at Legacy High School in Broomfield. When I’m not working or training I am hanging out with my husband and coach Ethan and his daughters.
So how did a math teacher who grew up on a ranch find her way to jiu jitsu?
Before I started jiu jitsu I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship. I met Ethan who was a purple belt at the time. He really encouraged me to try jiu jitsu. I was very hesitant at first. Jiu jitsu seemed really scary and the idea of signing up for a situation where people we’re going to by trying to choke me sounded terrifying! Ethan showed me some Muay Thai and I really enjoyed it. At the time the jiu jitsu school where he trained (Easton in Arvada with Nick and Chris Kline) had a policy that once you had two stripes on your white belt you could also take Muay Thai classes. I convinced a friend to come with me to orientation and then signed up for jiu jitsu with the intention of only training until I could do Muay Thai and then focus on Muay Thai and let jiu jitsu take the back burner. Things didn’t work like that. By the time I earned my second stripe I was in love with jiu jitsu. I did do about a year of Muay Thai during my blue belt but jiu jitsu has always been my primary focus.
You have had a few exciting years in your jiu jitsu: you placed 3rd as a brown belt at the 2014 IBJJF Pan Championship; 2nd as a brown belt at the 2015 IBJJF Worlds; and you are a 2015 World’s Master champion as a black belt. What has been your most exciting competition experience to date?
The most exciting was definitely Masters Worlds. This was my second tournament at black belt and I had never won gold at an IBJJF tournament. I had really been working berimbolos in the gym and I went to that tournament with the goal of trying to open up and go for a berimbolo. I hit a berimbolo to the back in the finals. I think when I won I was more excited about the technique than the win. It really hadn’t sunk in yet that I had won Masters Worlds at black belt!
You received your black from Amal Easton in June 2015 and have joined the ranks of the handful of female black belts representing Colorado. On April 8, 2016 at the Fight to Win Pro 4 you are matched-up against the number one female black belt in the world, Makenzie Dern. How do feel about this opportunity?
I am so excited for this opportunity! I want to thank Seth Daniels for putting this show together and giving me this incredible opportunity! Mackenzie has great jiu jitsu and I can’t wait to put on a show for everyone. I feel like women often have very exciting matches. We are often very submission dangerous and have exciting games.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of this match-up for you?
The entire match is a challenge! That’s what is so awesome! I get to fight the number one ranked female black belt. She has been a black belt longer than I have. She has been training longer than I have. She has more competition experience than I have. We are the main event. I love the challenge and I’m looking forward to taking this one head on!
You were originally matched with Angelica Galvao who had to pull from the match because of a training injury…how has the change from Angelica Galvao to Makenzie Dern effected your preparation for this event?
First of all, I would like to send best wishes to Angelica for a speedy recovery. I know how devastated I would be if I were in her position. As far as my preparation, Angelica and Mackenzie have some differences in the games they like to play. Angelica has a great spider guard so I was focusing on how to deal with a very complicated spider guard. Mackenzie is very dangerous with leg locks, especially toe holds and knee bars. I have more of a focus on defending these types of submissions now. The reality is I compete relatively often so I am always training to be prepared for anyone.
The number of women in jiu jitsu is rapidly increasing, but you will still find far more men training than women. How are you preparing for this match in what is still a male-centric sport?
I’m very lucky. I train at Easton Training Centers which has a huge pool of training partners to help me get ready. My main location that I train at is Centennial. There are 5 black belts who train here. My main female training partner is Leanna Dittrich who is ranked 12 in adult and 1 in masters for black belt women. She and I are basically the same size so it has been incredibly helpful to have her as a training partner! She was on the 5 Grappling card last August. I also train regularly with Liz Tran. She is a brown belt who is closer to Mackenzie’s size. She has competed a lot coming up through the ranks. Having these two amazing technical training partners really helps my game. The other side of the coin is jiu jitsu is jiu jitsu. Training with men is a huge part of my preparation. Sometimes they are stronger than me and escape. This makes me that much better. I have a lot of training partners who are close to my size and are always willing to put in extra time with me. All the women that compete still train with men the majority of the time. It’s just our reality in this sport.
Anyone you want to thank?
I want to thank my coach and my husband Ethan. He is the reason why I am here and he is the reason I can do all of this. He does the majority of our meal planning. He makes sure I have a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He helps me look at technique, game plan, watch videos. Basically everything that I need he helps with. There is no way that I could train and compete as much as I do without his continuous support.
I would also like to thank all my training partners. Phillip Miller, Vellore Caballero, and Matt Reid have all put in a lot of extra time with me. Without training partners we don’t have anything. And a huge thank you to Trainer Joe and Trainer Sadie of Just Results in Broomfield! Because of their strength and conditioning program I’m in the best shape of my life.
Where can people follow you on social media to stay up to date on your jiu jitsu journey?
follow me on Instagram @rossie.jiu.jitsu and on Facebook
For more information about Fight to Win Pro 4 check out the Fight to Win Promotions facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fighttowinmma
Girls in Gis Writer
“Veronica lives in Denver and trains with Easton Training Center. She is obsessed with all things food and loves coffee and reading.”